Marriage can mean different things to different people. To some, it reflects mutual love and commitment, while to others it’s a meaningless gesture or patriarchal institution.
For me, I had absolutely no desire to be married. I never fantasied about the dress I’d wear, what the wedding would look like, or who my husband would. Marriage to me was a prison and being in one meant signing my life away to a husband that would keep me there under lock and key, never to see the sunlight again.
I understand now after a journey of recovery and healing, this was a distorted view of marriage that developed after watching my parents be together. My mother lived in a prison of my father’s sickness and darkness – and on some level ¬- I vowed to never let a person do that to me, even if it meant being alone forever.
But thank God He had a plan for my future bigger than my fears, that included a man who became my husband. He brought Bryan into my life, and through him broke the lie that marriage was synonymous with imprisonment.
When my relationship with Bryan was getting serious, the fear of commitment was overwhelming, and I struggled to let him in even though I knew he was trustworthy. But as I allowed him in and faced the fears, I began to see the lies disappear. I saw a man who celebrated and supported me for who I was and provided a platform for me to spread my wings and be free. A man who put me first, made decisions that were best for us, and treated me with respect. All these experiences were radically different from what was modeled in my family, and certainly beyond whatever expectations I had of a husband.
As I reflect on this wonderful and healing journey of marriage I’ve had with Bryan, I can’t help but remember the similar one I’ve taken with Christ.
The projected image of imprisonment was reoccurring in all my relationships and created much reluctance in committing to Christ as well. I didn’t have much hope that He would be good or loving to me, and I was very wary of taking that step and letting Him inside.
But after He pursued me and actively showed me His love in supernatural ways, I couldn’t help but let Him in. As I did, He continued to show me more of His true character and I saw he was the opposite of all my fears. He gave me a love I could tangibly feel, and it made my hurting heart feel better, like a salve of relief. His love felt good and made me feel safe, warm, and satisfied. I wanted to be close to Him and I didn’t want that love to stop. I call this time with Him our honeymoon period, as it was a time of intimacy and closeness.
Like in every marriage, the honeymoon period eventually ends, and this is when the real work begins! With Bryan, our honeymoon period was fun, exciting, and new, but eventually we had to REALLY get to know each other and learn how to live together, learn how to bend, how to serve, and how to put the marriage first.
Likewise, when my “honeymoon period” with Christ ended, I saw that our roles began to reverse. It wasn’t just about His pursuit of me and showering me with love, I had to learn how to serve Him, how to give back to Him, and how to walk in the trust He had built between us. It was about stepping into my position as the Bride of Christ and learning how to live with Him as my spiritual husband.
Marriage, earthly and spiritual, is the continual recycling of service and sacrifice. It takes work, time, and dedication – not because you are a prisoner forced to – but because love drives you to do so. When one gives or sacrifices out of free will with no ulterior motives, it drives the other person to reciprocate that action. This is love, and it keeps the wheel of marriage spinning and alive.
In my marriage with Bryan when he gives, it makes me want to give. When he sacrifices, it makes me want to sacrifice for him. When he shows his love, it makes me love him more and want to give more in return.
The same is true with Christ. He showed me His love through the ultimate sacrifice of dying a sinner’s death while being blameless. He did this so that I could be with Him and walk with Him for eternity, and so He could give me that love I desperately need – that never stops. It is this love that drives me to serve him and give my love in return.